Housing issues are not clear-cut for the public
The major issue of the week has been the government’s decision to end the eviction ban and to allow landlords to evict tenants again from April this year. This decision has been met by uproar from the opposition parties and has also received negative media coverage in the context of the housing crisis still gripping the nation.
The complexities of the housing crisis, and the levers that impact on it, mean, however, that this is perhaps not such a clear-cut issue for the public as media coverage would suggest.
While we know that housing is a major political issue and will be extremely important in how people vote at the next election, it doesn’t appear that ending the eviction ban has had a major impact on current levels of support for government parties.
Today’s poll sees the two larger government parties retain the same overall level of support as before the decision. Fine Gael even makes a small gain to see support at 22%, while Fianna Fáil see a small decline from what a high point for the party in our series over the past number of months was. The Green Party’s support falls back by 1%, but overall, this means the government parties secure 40% support vs 41% last month.
At the same time, Sinn Féin does not make any gains, despite heavy media coverage of their opposition to end the eviction ban. This does appear to suggest that opposition to ending the ban is so some extent already baked in to support levels seen beforehand.
The one party that does see significant gains vs. its overall share is the Social Democrats, rising from 4% support last month to 6% this month. While some of these gains may be due to the parties opposition of the ending of the ban, the new leadership of Holly Cairns is also a contributary factor, having been seen to give the party a boost in other polls before today.
It is also clear that voters are quite split on whether they oppose the ending of the eviction ban. While it is true that more people oppose than support the ban, the level of opposition is still less than half of all voters (46%), while over one in three voters (36%) support the government’s decision to end the ban. The remaining one in five voters (18%) are unsure whether to support or oppose the ending of the ban, demonstrating the complexity of the issue.
The decision to support or oppose the ending of the eviction ban also doesn’t clearly follow party lines. As you might expect, support for ending the ban is higher among those who intend to vote for government parties, with around half of Fianna Fáil voters (49%) and Fine Gael voters (54%) supportive of the government’s decision to end the eviction ban. However, even among those who support the current government parties, close to one in three oppose the decision to end the ban.
The reverse is true when we look at Sinn Féin and the Social Democrat voters. While TD’s from these parties have been probably the most outspoken against its ending, not all their supporters agree. The majority of voters from both parties do oppose ending the eviction ban, but at the same time one in four of voters of both Sinn Fein and the Social Democrats actually support ending the ban.
A real watch out for Labour, who are bringing forward a vote of no confidence in the government on the back of the decision, is that half of their supporters (49%) albeit on small sample, actually support the government’s decision to end the ban.
Voters are also quite likely to support any proposed tax breaks for landlords designed to encourage them to stay in the market. Half of all voters (50%) support such a move by government, while 30% are opposed to such a move. Support is highest among older Fine Gael voters, but even a third 36% of Sinn Féin voters support the move.
There is real anger in society due to the lack of housing in Ireland, but it is clear the public are unsure of who really has the answers to solve the situation. Immediately assuming support for landlords is a bad thing is unwise, when there is certainly public support for any measures that may help the situation.
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